I had a bunch of ideas for my blog post this week. First it was going to be about eeking out time to write between being a mommy and working a stressful full-time job. Then I was going to write something funny about euphemisms for private parts in romance novels.
Then my first rejection from a publisher came, and that’s all I could think about.
Back in December I submitted an excerpt from a short for consideration in an anthology. I was ecstatic a couple weeks ago when they asked to see the rest of the story. The refresh button on my email was getting a major workout as I waited for a response. Then I was disappointed this weekend when I got the email saying they were passing on the story.
I’m not ashamed to admit I indulged in a bit of wallowing. I’ve probably read the rejection email two dozen times. At least. It was short and sweet, so there really wasn’t much to analyze. It said they liked my main male character, but the story wasn’t what they were looking for. Good luck. Bye-bye.
Now I’m tasked with getting over it. Being a person that endlessly dwells over my mistakes, this isn’t the easiest task.
The first step was figuring out what I did wrong, and how I could improve for next time. Easier said than done since the rejection email didn’t give a lot of information. Simply that my story wasn’t right for them. Cue over analyzing a three sentence email and trying to read between the lines. They said they liked my male main character, Luke. Maybe I need to work on my female characters? They said the story as a whole wasn’t right, perhaps the pacing was too slow? The sex not hot enough? Too hot? The truth is I may never know. I have to deal with that uncertainty. I won’t be the first writer to be given a vague rejection, and I’m it won’t be the last I receive either. I archived the email for my own posterity and tried to forget about it.
That lasted five minutes.
Next I tried to look on the bright side of things. I hear from some fellow authors getting a personalized rejection is actually a good sign and doesn’t always happen. Heck some said they never got a response. So, yay! I got a response, and they mention my MMC by name, that shows they at least read part of it, that’s a start!
Sharing my rejection with my fellow writers was the best thing I could have done. I found that commiserating with friends who knew where I was coming from gave me a new perspective on the situation. This is part of the process of becoming a writer! Everyone has been there.
After deciding this was not a sign I’m a horrible writer and should give it up altogether, I tried looking for success after rejection stories. Back in my basketball days my Dad always reminded me, after spending another game on the bench, that Michael Jordan got cut from his high school team (turns out that isn’t true, but my Dad said it was, so it was). I typed into Google “famous authors rejected by publishers” and hundreds of articles popped up. I clicked on one from Buzzfeed (knower of all). Whoa, Robert M. Pirsig was rejected 121 times before getting Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance published. There’s a guy that knows how to take rejection and keep going. One publisher told JK Rowling not to quit her day job. And it turns out Beatrix Potter self-published The Tale of Peter Rabbit after several rejections.
It appears those of us to get rejection letters are in good company. All was not lost. I’m not saying I’m on the same level as those authors, but if they can roll with the punches, so can I.
One article I read said to keep writing, don’t let the rejection get you down. But when I opened the document for my work in progress I got dismayed. All I saw were the problems with my story. I wasn’t ready to be optimistic yet.
Instead I pampered myself a little. I went shopping, bought a great new dress, and walked around sipping a latte. Then I came home and played with my toddler. Because there’s nothing that can boost your confidence like hanging out with someone who thinks you’re the greatest thing since Nutella.
The next night I was ready to work. I finished a new short for another anthology and made some serious headway with my novel.
I don’t know what will happen with the rejected story. The idea of expanding it into a novella and self-publishing is playing in the back of my mind. Or maybe I will stick it in a drawer for a while and decide later.
I do know the next time I get rejected, and there will be a next time, I’ll be okay. There’s a weird sense of accomplishment that comes with getting your hopes dashed and moving on with your head held high. Sure, for now I may be an unpublished author, but I stuck my neck out there. That’s saying something.
I swear, next time I’ll write about pocket rockets.